Public confidence in Tabung Haji not shaken by 1MDB land buy, Utusan claims

KUALA LUMPUR, May 10 — Utusan Malaysia claimed today that despite Lembaga Tabung Haji’s (LTH) controversial RM188.5 million land deal with debt-laden 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), many have not lost confidence in the pilgrimage fund.

In an editorial by Awang Selamat, the collective voice of the Umno-owned daily’s editors, the paper pointed out that the performance of the fund cannot be measured by just “one or two issues”.

“There are many other success stories involving the fund that people either aren’t aware of or take for granted,” Awang wrote today in Mingguan Malaysia, the weekend edition of the Malay language daily.

“LTH is recognised the world over for its good reputation in the management and welfare of Muslim pilgrims,” he said, adding that it is “thankful” for this.

Explaining, Awang pointed out that the price to perform the hajj has been maintained at RM9,980 since 2009, although the actual cost for the journey has increased.

In 2015 for example, the paper claimed that LTH is subsidising RM7,290 for each Muslim pilgrim as the actual cost of the journey is RM17,270.

Utusan Malaysia also recalled that LTH paid out RM3.2 billion in bonuses, which is 6.25 per cent for the annual bonus and a 2.0 per cent bonus for the hajj.

“All these did not come easily. May LTH’s achievements for the benefit of its depositors and the Muslim pilgrims continue to soar

“Again, Awang has confidence in this,” the paper’s editors wrote.

Noting yesterday’s announcement by LTH that it will sell the land plot it bought from 1MDB by next week, Awang urged everyone to move forward from the controversy.

It noted that the decision to sell the land, which was on the advice of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, had been made despite the LTH board’s insistence that the investment had been a strategic one made on commercial considerations and not as a bailout for 1MDB.

“With this new development, let us look forward and let this issue be a valuable lesson to all, especially to LTH,” Awang said.

Yesterday, LTH chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim announced that following advice from Najib, the fund will be selling its TRX plot by next week, which is just a month after its purchase.

He also claimed that the fund already has three potential buyers for the plot and that the sale will net LTH at least RM5 million in profit.

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